NSERC is committed to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research teams and their environment through the Tri-agency EDI Action Plan. For Alliance applications, consideration of EDI in the training plan is part of the evaluation criteria: providing specific, concrete practices of how EDI is considered in your training plan is mandatory, and this will be assessed in the review process. Failure to provide this information will result in the rejection of your application.
You must describe specific, concrete practices that you will put in place to ensure that EDI is intentionally and proactively supported in your project's training plan. Similar to the way you might outline your research methodology, provide a description of specific activities you have or will undertake to support equity, diversity and inclusion in recruitment practices, mentorship approaches, as well as the initiatives aimed at ensuring an equitable and inclusive research and training environment.
Specific actions or practices implemented to support EDI in your project's training plan should be guided by the following overarching objectives:
- Removing systemic barriers from the recruitment processes to encourage full participation of individuals from underrepresented groups, including but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ2+ communities
- Increasing diversity in the composition of teams
- Integrating diversity and equity in mentoring, training and accessing career development opportunities
- Fostering an equitable, inclusive and accessible research environment needed to enhance excellence in both research and training
Note: Just as vague or generic statements about the nature of your research methodology would be insufficient to describe your research plan, vague or generic statements regarding EDI in the training plan (e.g., “the university is committed to EDI” or “in future hiring, EDI will be considered”) will be insufficient and will lead to your application being rejected.
Consider that a diverse team does not on its own provide evidence of an equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible research environment. Instead of stating that the team is already complete and/or diverse*, provide examples of specific initiatives and measures that you have or will put in place to support principles of EDI within your team.
Demonstrate through your training plan that you support the principles of your institution's EDI policy and are able to apply them in the context of your own research field and training environment. Instead of stating that your institution's EDI policy will be followed, describe specific actions that you have or will put in place in the context of your project's training plan.
* An important note about privacy and confidentiality: Applicants must protect the privacy and confidentiality of all team members, including students and trainees. Do not ask or make assumptions about how past, current or potential team members self-identify in terms of belonging to one or more underrepresented groups. Any information a student or trainee provided to your institution with respect to their self-identity is considered personal and confidential information and should not be communicated to NSERC. Additionally, do not provide statements in your application that could directly or indirectly reveal the self-identity of a student or trainee. For example, instead of saying that the Indigenous master's student in your lab will be offered a leadership role, indicate that any opportunity to assume a leadership role will first be offered to team members who have opted to self-identity as a member of an underrepresented group.
The following questions are intended to provide guidance on what it means to critically reflect using an EDI lens, by offering examples of considerations or best practices for the training plan. The questions are not exhaustive, and some may not be applicable to your unique situation; however, we invite you to reflect on how your training environment may be strengthened by considering those that are relevant.
- Are opportunities to join the team communicated to all potential candidates in an open, inclusive and transparent way? What specific communication channels will be used to ensure your intended reach?
- When hiring trainees and other team members, how will unconscious biasFootnote 1 and conflicts of interest be managed and mitigated in the selection process?
- What types of EDI-related training will the academic team and/or highly qualified personnel receive, based on the current level of EDI competency among members and the context of the work environment?
- If your institution has an EDI action plan or EDI commitments and initiatives within its strategic plan, how could the team draw from and/or build on this to foster an equitable, diverse and inclusive research environment?
- What specific practices will be followed to ensure that individuals with family, care, cultural, religious or community responsibilities are supported and not disadvantaged within the team and training environment?
- What specific measures will be taken to equitably promote and foster leadership and mentorship roles for members of underrepresented groups?
- What processes are or will be put in place to ensure that mentorship responsibilities as well as training and career development opportunities associated with the grant are distributed equitably and communicated clearly to team members?
- What practices are or will be put in place to address and mitigate micro-aggressions, conflicts, unconscious bias1 and racism that may arise within the team (e.g., complaints management and/or conflict resolution process(es), designated EDI champions, etc.)?
For an overview of EDI and additional information on considering EDI in your training plan, including the composition of your research team, please consult the following resources:
- NSERC's Guide for applicants: Considering EDI in your application
- Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research: A guide for applicants to New Frontiers in Research Fund competitions, particularly the Research team and research environment section
- Canada Research Chairs' Creating an Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive Research Environment: A Best Practices Guide for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention
- Your university's EDI policy/strategy/plan, if applicable